ATLANTA — Retro looks and the bohemian chic trend drew mixed reviews at AmericasMart, with many buyers saying they were looking for more variety that works for a wider range of ages and sizes.
“If you’re 40, with a great sense of style, you’re out of luck,” said Susan Isenberg, co-owner of NYFO, with two stores in Richmond and Norfolk, Va. “There are a lot of silk camisoles here, but we need more beautiful clothes that are classic…with a contemporary attitude and realistic sizing.”
Most buyers liked the color array but said they would like more alternatives to the exotic, embellished and vintage-inspired looks being offered. Predominant trends included sequined or lace-trim satin tops to pair with jeans or long embellished circular skirts to mix with solid T-shirts, sweaters, shrugs and cocoons.
Buyer attendance at the show, which ended its five-day run April 11, was up over last year, said Lawton Hall, senior vice president, who didn’t reveal figures.
Contemporary lines, especially premium denim, is a new focus for AmericasMart’s show-within-a-show, called Premiere. More than 100 premium denim lines in 30 booths were added this market, including Blue Cult and 1921.
Cathy Tucker, principal of sales showroom Sheppard & Tucker, said sales were down 5 to 7 percent from last year.
“Spring retail has been down, with early Easter and cold weather that hasn’t inspired consumers to buy,” she said, adding that 10 accounts canceled mart appointments to stay at their stores when the weather improved and business picked up.
Tom Carroll, principal of David Byrne Showroom/Relevant and Carroll Apparel, said sales were up 18 percent because of recently expanded space and additional lines and also because of tried-and-true lines that were strong performers.
“We’re now offering a mix and more variety for all ages, from young contemporary on up,” he said. “There are no misses’ stores anymore and no generation gap. Everything is modern.”
Bonnie White, owner of an eponymous Atlanta specialty store with two locations, thought the market had too much edgy, young contemporary product.
“There’s a customer who’s not a contemporary customer, one that’s driven by quality, and she’s being squeezed out,” White said. “That’s why Chico’s numbers are so good. They’re addressing her, but few others are.”
White bought woven cotton shirts that sold well for spring from Starington and its Eye division. While shirts offered women something new, she said, sweaters looked less fresh, with the exception of a few lines, such as One Girl Who, Diagram and Bernadette Conte. White bought embellished skirts, from Basil & Maude, which have boosted business as a good alternative to pants, paired with solid tanks and T-shirts.
Though she passed on skimpy silk camisoles, White bought sophisticated interpretations, in stretch silk charmeuse tops with wide straps and tone-on-tone lace by Kay Celine. She also purchased Cambio jeans in a variety of fits, but kept her denim buy limited, focusing on embellished pants or skirts.
Cara and Robby Fromin, owners of three stores in Memphis — Isabella, Eve and Ella — ranging from contemporary sportswear to cocktail, shopped for fall goods, including jackets that were strong for spring in vintage-inspired embellished looks from Belage, a new line for them. They also bought shrugs and fuller skirts.
For Isabella, the more contemporary store, they purchased premium denim from Seven For All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity and James for younger customers, and Christopher Blue and Red Engine, which have a higher rise for a more mature customer. They also picked up a new denim line called Salt Works.
“Jeans have become a staple that women can wear with Pumas or heels and a sequined top,” said Cara Fromin.
Nancy Lerner, owner of Nancy’s in Charleston, S.C., shopped for skirts with artistic details, colorful tops and T-shirts, shimmies, sarongs and jackets. She bought Marisa K and sought out European resources, such as the French line Gerard Darel and other London designers. She bought FRX stretch denim and a variety of novelty tops and accessories.
Jennifer Clements, a co-owner with Isenberg of NYFO Boutique, bought fall and summer fill-ins, touching on the bohemian trend, with a few peasant skirts and tunics. Clements and Isenberg ordered separates from Max Mara Weekend, Theory, Nanette Lapore and Trina Turk, novelty T-shirts and cardigans from Noun and shrugs from 525. They bought denim from Citizens of Humanity, David Kahn and Bella Dahl.